Hurricanes and other extreme weather events have already become more frequent and severe due to global climate change. However, there is a smaller, less visible threat on the horizon that could devastate America’s shores.
(Photo: Getty Images)
High tide flooding, often referred to as “nuisance flooding”, occurs in coastal areas when tides rise above the normal daily high tide by about 2 feet (0.6 meters) and begin to flood streets or seeping into storm drains. True to their nickname, these floods are more of a nuisance than a disaster, inundating streets and homes, forcing businesses to close and overflowing cesspools – but the longer they persist, the more damage they can cause.
More than 600 such floods occurred in the United States in 2019, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). the 2030s, with most of the country’s coastline likely to experience three to four times as many days of high-tide flooding each year for at least a decade.
Unevenly distributed floods
(Photo: Matt Rath/Chesapeake Bay Program)
Storm surge floods Dock Street in downtown Annapolis, Maryland.
The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on June 21, warns that these extra flood days will not be evenly distributed throughout the year, but will likely cluster over a few months; coastal areas currently experiencing two or three floods per month could soon experience a dozen or more.
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According to the study, if communities do not start planning for these longer coastal flood seasons now, they will cause severe disruption to lives and livelihoods.
In a statement, the research’s lead author, Phil Thompson, assistant professor at the University of Hawaii, said: “It’s the cumulative effect over time that will be influential. A business cannot operate with its parking lot under water if it is flooded 10 or 15 times. each month. People are losing their jobs because of their inability to get to work. As a result, sewage ponds have become a public health problem.
This anticipated increase in flood days is due to several causes.
For starters, there’s the problem of sea level rise. As the atmosphere warms due to global warming, glacier ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, releasing huge volumes of water from melting in the ocean. As a result, according to NOAA, global average sea level has risen 8 to 9 inches (21 to 24 cm) since 1880, about a third of that in the previous 25 years.
Depending on how effectively humans limit greenhouse gas emissions over the following decades, sea levels could rise from 12 inches (0.3 m) to 8.2 feet (2.5 m) above 2000 levels by 2100.
(Photo: Alex Andrews)
While rising sea levels alone will increase the frequency of high tide flooding, the cosmos – especially the moon – will help them.
The moon affects the tides, but the strength of its attraction varies from year to year; the moon’s orbit has a “oscillate“, which causes it to move slightly relative to the Earth over an 18.6-year cycle. As a result, the Moon suppresses the Earth’s tides for half of the cycle, resulting in lower high tides and Higher low tides According to NASA, the tides are amplified for the other half of the cycle, with stronger high tides and lower low tides.
We are currently in the tidal amplification phase of the cycle; the next phase of tidal amplification begins in the mid-2030s. According to the researchers, by that time global sea levels will have risen enough to make these higher-than-normal high tides extremely problematic.
moon and tides
(Photo: Getty Images)
According to the study, flooding at high tide would increase rapidly along the entire US coast due to the combined effects of sea level rise and the lunar cycle. According to the authors, high tide flooding will “evolve from a localized concern to a national problem, with most of America’s coastlines affected” in less than a decade.
Additionally, other aspects of the climate cycle, such as occurrences of El Nio, will cause these flood days to cluster at specific times of the year, resulting in months of persistent coastal flooding.
According to the authors, as frightening as this pattern may seem, it is essential to understand it for planning purposes.
“Knowing that all your events are clustered in a certain month, or that you might have more severe flooding in the second half than the first – that’s useful knowledge,” said research co-author Ben Hamlington. from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A declaration.
Extreme weather events
(Photo: Getty Images)
Extreme weather events can grab national media attention as they wreak havoc on US shores, but high tide flooding will soon be hard to ignore. Therefore, the authors concluded that it is best to start preparing now before it is too late.
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